Potential Decrease in Lamar Jackson's Rushing Could Hurt His 2019 Fantasy Football Value

Zach Brunner
Wild Card Round - San Diego Chargers v Baltimore Ravens
Wild Card Round - San Diego Chargers v Baltimore Ravens / Patrick Smith

Cover Photo: Getty Images

Last season was the year of the rookie quarterback, with all five signal callers selected in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft making at least one start for their team. The last QB drafted from the 2018 first-round crop was Lamar Jackson, who was expected to spend the season learning behind Joe Flacco.

However, an injury to Flacco allowed Jackson to enter the lineup sooner than many expected. The rookie led the Baltimore Ravens to a 6-2 record in his eight starts, relying on his legs to do most of his damage last season.

Jackson averaged 17 carries per game, many of which were designed runs and set a QB rushing record despite not staring until Week 11. That's an exceptionally high number for a QB, and the Ravens likely don't want to expose Jackson to that much running and that many hits this coming season.

This isn't college football and NFL teams understand that they need to protect their franchise quarterbacks. Ravens' owner Steve Bisciotti addressed this in a call with season-ticket holders this week, saying that the new Baltimore offense will not feature Jackson running the ball 20 times per game.

While making plays with his legs is what Jackson does best, if his rushes are limited so will his fantasy upside in the 2019 season. The Ravens will likely use Jackson's athleticism to stretch defenses out and move the pocket, but the organization claims he will run the ball less.

Jackson is currently being selected as a back-end QB2, somewhere between QB18 and QB20, which makes him a backup in one-QB leagues and a great superflex option. The awareness of Bisciotti to protect his quarterback for the long term says this team is focused on winning games and improving Jackson's game as a passer, similarly to what the Panthers have tried to do with Cam Newton.

So while this might hurt Jackson's fantasy value this season, it likely means good things for the Ravens as a whole.

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